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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

106                                              MEDICAL  JURISPRUDENCE

SEMINAL STAINS

The question of detecting seminal stains arises in cases of alleged rape or
unnatural offence. They are usually found on clothing but may be found on
the person of either the victim or the accused. The matting of the pubic
hair with semen is not an uncommon occurrence. Seminal stains may also
be found on bed-clothes, on the seats of a motor car, on the floor, or on the
grass where the offence was committed. They are sometimes found mixed
with blood, mucus, pus or faeces, especially on the articles of clothing. In
cases of rape on small girls, injuries to the genital organs sometimes cause
considerable haemorrhage, so that semen gets mixed up with a large pro-
portion of blood which renders the identification of seminal stains difficult
if not impossible.

Examination of Seminal Stains.—The examination of seminal stains
may be carried out by the following methods ; —

1.   Physical.

2.    Chemical.

3.    Microscopical.

4.    Biological.

Physical Examination.—Semen, when fresh, is a viscid, albuminous
fluid of a faint greyish-yellow colour, possessing a characteristic odour and
containing spermatozoa, epithelial cells, lecithin bodies, etc. When dry, semen
gives a stiff, starchy feel to the cloth and produces slight deepening of the
colour with the disappearance of its odour. In fabricated cases of rape or
sodomy which are not uncommon in this country a solution of starch or white
of egg is used in producing stiffening of the cloth which looks like a seminal
stain on dirty, and coloured garments. In fact, dry seminal stains have no
reliable distinctive characteristics, when examined with the naked eye.
Under certain conditions, stiffness may disappear if the garments are not pro-
perly dried in the open air before they are packed for despatch for medico-
legal investigation. It is believed that in the presence of moisture certain
bacteria act upon the protein constituents of semen, digest the dried protein
and thus destroy its stiffness. The bacteria not only remove the albuminous
matter but also disintegrate the spermatozoa beyond recognition. It is, there-
fore, necessary that the police and medical officers should thoroughly dry
the garments having suspected stains before they are sent to the Chemical
Examiner. They should also be careful not to fold or twist the cloth on the
stained portion to prevent damage to spermatozoa.

Invisible and softened seminal stains on cloth can be rendered quite
distinct by properly filtered ultra-violet rays which produce a bluish fluore-
scence on the stains, provided the cloth is clean and not dark-coloured. More
often than not, the victim's sari or underwear, coming as it does usually
from the poorer classes, is so dirty that ultra-violet rays are not very helpful
in searching for seminal stains. It may also be noted that a bluish fluore-
scence is not specific for seminal stains and may be seen in some other albu-
minous materials. The stiffening of cloth, if due to starch, pus, sputum,
leucorrhceal discharge, etc., may be proved by the presence of starch granules,
pus cells, squamous and other epithelial cells and different kinds of bacteria
under a microscope ; these will also indicate the source of the stains.

Chemical Examination.—The chemical examination of seminal stains
consists in the application of (1) Florence test and (2) Barberios' test.

Florence Test—This is known after the name of Dr. Florence of Lyons,
who first introduced it. It is based on the formation of characteristic crystals
of choline periodide, when a solution of - a seminal stain is treated with
Florence's reagent containing iodine, 2.54 grammes, potassium iodide, 1.65
grammes, and distilled water, 30 cc. It is'not absolutely necessary to stick